João Conde from Conde Lab recently published an article in the journal in Trends in Cancer entitled "Above and beyond Cancer Therapy: translating biomaterials into clinics" (full article here).
In brief, João Conde talks about this review:
What led you to prepare and publish this review?
"The idea of this opinion piece started with a question: Why is there such a paucity of clinical trials using nanotherapies, considering the extensive reports of anticancer nanomedicines in preclinical studies? To date, nano-therapy studies have depended to a great extent on applying systemic routes to deliver therapeutic payloads, regardless of the low delivery efficiencies and advantages of local and continuous delivery approaches. Nanotechnology can certainly deliver, but we need to tackle the limitations that are holding back the translation of nanomedicines into the clinic and start benefiting from their full potential."
Why is this important?
"Empowering a proficient systemic delivery is testing and dependent on experimental examination. Thats why the clinical translation of biomaterials is important, once there is an earnest need to form improved delivery vehicles and to establish guidelines regarding the performance metric by which we can evaluate a technology in a preclinical setting. Correlating preclinical and clinical outcomes would pave the way to generating a scoring system that would determine the probability of clinical success.
This opinion piece provides a checklist that should consider additional guidelines that define the studies necessary to investigate the efficacy, safety, biopharmaceutic and pharmacokinetic properties of modified nanomaterials following oral, intramuscular, subcutaneous and intravenous administration in animal models, and to set out general principles for designing, conducting and evaluating such studies. It is imperative to scrutinize the hurdles and suggest potential solutions to enable optimal administration and delivery of therapeutic agents and propose new paradigms by which therapies need to be evaluated towards effective nanotechnology translation into the clinic."
Can you use an analogy to help us understand this field?
"The idea of this field - Nanotechnology - started more than 60 years ago, when in December of 1959, Richard Feynman (an American theoretical physicist) gave a lecture called “There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom” at an annual meeting of the American Physical Society at Caltech. In this well-known talk, Feynman placed the theoretical foundations for the field now called NanoMedicine when he could perceive the world where things could be miniaturized, or when huge volumes of intel could be programmed onto more and even more small devices, and when machines could be made significantly reduced and compact. Despite the fact that 1959 was the time when computers were the size of entire rooms, Feynman asked his audience: “I don't know how to do this on a small scale in a practical way, but I do know that computing machines are very large; they fill rooms. Why can't we make them very small, make them of little wires, little elements, and by little, I mean little?”.
In fact, the concept of miniature medical minions that we developed using Nanotechnology isn’t new. Richard Feynman at that time already suggested the possibility of “swallowing the doctor”. Feynman told us “it would be interesting in surgery if you could swallow the surgeon (small machine). (…) It goes into the heart and looks around. It finds out which valve is the faulty” and repairs it”.
This has inspired us and others to consider the possibility of manipulating individual atoms as a powerful tool for synthetic chemistry and synthetic biology."
What questions remain to be asked in this field that your group will pursue?
"Cancer has become the chief proving ground-breaking platforms that can be used for precision medicine using Nanotechnology. Determining the genetic profile of a tumor, detecting key driver mutations, and trying to disable those drivers with targeted therapies so as to “smash” the brakes on malignant and metastatic cells to control proliferation is the modus operandus of Precision Medicine. Now Cancer Nanotechnology aims to do that for old-line drugs and treatment strategies and bring up reality to the Precision Medicine Initiative. However, how far are we from precision and personalization? This is a question that our group will try to answer by developing innovative and personalized biomaterials for the delivery of therapeutic molecules in a highly specific and efficient way. The epitome for diseases’ diagnosis and treatment has to be modified from relatively nonspecific delivery agents to tuned, selective and cellular/molecular and mechanism-based devices."
Find out more about Conde Lab in the his website.